When I first moved to Las Vegas, I was enamored with all of the classic motels on The Strip and Downtown. I used to drag my boyfriend around so I could take photos of them, especially all the vintage signs. It never dawned on me they might not be there one day. Sadly, I’ve watched them disappear over the years and now there are only a handful left. In the back of my mind, I really wanted to use one as a location for a shoot, but I knew it had to be for the right people.
Sometimes, despite all the dreams or pre-planning, you just have to wait for things to fall into place. When my dear friend and colleague, Mercie Ghimire, booked a family portrait session with me, I knew they were the ones. We had talked about shooting photos for years but never managed to make it happen. Thankfully, this past November it all came together as one epic weekend of shooting. Not only did we get permission to use the awesome Motel 8 (thank you, Grace), we also found some fantastic spots Downtown in another abandoned motel. We had so much fun (as evidenced by the multitude of photos to follow) and I’m pretty certain it can’t get more colorful than this!
Every year, without fail, I’m asked by a handful of visitors, “Where should we eat while we’re in Las Vegas?” And as if by the powers of association, my mind starts spinning like a slot machine with all of the possibilities. “Strip or Off-Strip? How much money do you want to spend? What type of food do you want to eat? Casual or Fancy?” ACKKKK!!!!! There are literally so many places to choose from my brain inevitably shuts down and I can’t think of anything at all. It’s embarrassing! I’m determined to change this, but it is truly hard, so we’ll start with baby steps. Actually, we’ll start with the most obscure place of all… The Bronze Cafe.
I discovered this little gem via my bestie Jessica who happened to move to DTLV (downtown) earlier this year. She kept mentioning this as a favorite and I was like, “What?! Where? I’ve never heard of it.” That’s the problem you see. There are constantly new restaurants popping up all across town, all of the time. After about the 3rd mention, I looked it up and quickly discovered it was a favorite of many people (rated #2 on Yelp) and that it had been there for a year and a half. (SIGH) The next day, I high-tailed it downtown to see what the fuss was all about. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint.
The food is delicious, healthful, and all made from scratch with a focus on vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. But if you’re an omnivore like me, don’t let that put you off. They also have bacon! The cafe serves coffee, juice, pastries/baked goods, soup, salad, sandwiches and sides.
It’s located in the The Center (our local Gay + Lesbian Community Center) and run by Chef Peter Bastien (of Osteria Mozza fame) and his business partner David Mozes. Many of the items have playful names like, “The What What” and “The LGBTQ.” I’m absolutely in love with the “Complicated Order” sandwich (bacon jam, FTW!). I’m also addicted to their kale salads, specifically “The Bizness” and “David’s Special.” The sides they put on top are the best – curried quinoa, spiced chickpeas, beet salad, house-made seitan, roasted chicken. The vegan “Tree of Life” pita is another favorite with it’s pickled onions, cashew crema, and brazil nut crumble. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! I’ve also tried a few of their baked goods and all have been fantastic. Plus they’ve got a special, cold-brew iced coffee made from a Japanese-style drip tower.
(Excuse the lousy photos. I took these quickly before scarfing everything down.)
Honestly, the only downfall for me is that it feels too much like a Starbucks at an airport or a library. I wish it was a stand alone restaurant because the food deserves better presentation than take away boxes and the atmosphere feels far too casual for the quality of the food. Luckily, there’s some outdoor seating or you can always take the food to go.
But truth be told, the people that work there are so incredibly friendly and the food is simply so delicious, I’d probably eat it any way they handed it to me.BRONZE CAFE 401 S Maryland Pkwy Las Vegas, NV 89101 (702) 202-3100
First up on SCOUT is Bud + Vine. Located in the recently renovated John E. Carson Hotel, this store offers a wonderful selection of apothecary items, plants, paper goods, as well as a full floral shop. I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for a store like this! Without a doubt, they had me at the Soñadora wall hangings (which I’ve been lusting after for months), but I was equally thrilled to see products from Herbivore Botanicals, Culinarium Concrete and Kinfolk.
I realize many cities have handfuls of carefully curated boutiques like this, but Las Vegas does not. On my last visit, I spoke briefly with co-owner, Christina Cicatello, to congratulate her on such a lovely and much needed addition to the community. She told me they also offer after-hours floral design workshops and classes, which I’m hoping to attend soon.
Bud + Vine
124 S. 6th Ave. Suite 170
Las Vegas, NV 89109